The NSW Police Force Aviation Command has welcomed three new Bell 429 helicopters into its PolAir fleet, following a commissioning ceremony in Sydney on Tuesday.
The new twin-engine aircraft will serve as PolAir 1, 3 and 4. These will be used to support the Force in patrols, search and rescue, surveillance and specialist operations throughout NSW.
The 429s will replace the Force’s aging helicopters, including an AS350 single-engine Squirrel and an AS355 twin-engine Squirrel, that have both been in operation since the 1990s, and a twin-engine EC135 that has been in operation since 2012.
The new aircraft will join the Force’s fleet of five helicopters and three fixed-wing aircraft. Along with the new Bell 429 helicopters, the Force has two Bell 412s, and three Cessna Caravans.
The aircraft were assembled in Canada in 2020 and were delivered to NSW Police Force Aviation Command’s airbase in Bankstown earlier this year.
According to NSW Police, the aircraft are equipped with the latest technology in airborne law enforcement, including a Trakka beam, FLIR HDc 380 camera system, advanced mapping systems, tactical radios and a rescue hoist winch.
The Force stated that the expanded capabilities of these new helicopters will reduce the need to change aircraft as a mission’s requirements evolve.
The Bell 429 fleet will be maintained by the command’s full-time engineers at the Force’s purpose-built airbase in Bankstown.
The helicopters were funded via the $50m Future Light Helicopter Program.
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NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet and the Minister for Police and Emergency Services David Elliott joined NSWPF Commissioner Mick Fuller and Aviation Commander Superintendent Brad Monk at the Aviation Command to unveil the new aircraft on Tuesday.
Commissioner Mick Fuller said each helicopter had been purpose-built to policing specifications.
“The Bell 429 helicopters have been specifically designed and fitted with the best technology available to carry out search and rescue operations, conduct aerial patrols and surveillance operations,” Commissioner Fuller said.
“Each one has been customised with the most sophisticated equipment, including a FLIR camera system, advanced mapping systems, tactical radio and rescue hoist winch.
“We know that these aviation resources are a vital component to our policing responses, and I am confident that PolAir 1, 3 and 4 will play a critical role in our future operations,” he said.
Aviation Commander Superintendent Brad Monk said the Bell 429s are a welcomed boost to policing across the state.
“These new choppers take us forward and put us at the forefront of airborne law enforcement,” Superintendent Monk said.
“The upgraded technology means we can better support Police Area Commands and Police Districts in fighting crime from the air and making the community safer.”
“By now using only two types of helicopters (the Bell 429 and Bell 412), we’ve standardised the fleet making it more cost-efficient to operate and easier to maintain,” said Superintendent Monk.
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